BAGNALL (BAGENHALL, BAGNOLD), Sir Nicholas (by 1509-90/91), of Wolston and Warwick, Warws.; Longford, Derbys.; Stafford and Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffs.; London; Penrhyn, Caern. and Newry and Carlingford, Ireland.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1509, yr. s. of John Bagnall of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs. by Eleanor, da. of Thomas Whittingham of Middlewich, Cheshire; bro. of Sir Ralph. m. c.1555, Eleanor (d.1573), da. and coh. of Sir Edward Griffith of Penrhyn, 6s. inc. Sir Henry 6 or 7da. Kntd. bet. 25 Mar. 1551 and 29 Jan. 1552.2

Offices Held

MP [I] 1585.

Gent. pens. by Jan. 1547-c.49; marshal of Ireland 29 Mar. 1547-53, 23 Oct. 1565-90; commr. to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, Ireland 1568; j.p.q. Caern. and Anglesey by 1561, rem. by 1573; chief commr. for govt. of Ulster 1577, 1584.3


Although Nicholas Bagnall was to become an able administrator in Ireland, he had first gone there as a fugitive from justice. In 1537-8 he and his brothers Ralph and Randolph were deprived of the freedom of Newcastle-under-Lyme for offences committed in the town, and within two years he had accidentally killed a man in a brawl and had fled the country. In Ireland he entered the service of Con Bacagh O’Neill, with whom he came to stand so well that when in 1542 O’Neill was reconciled with Henry VIII and created Earl of Tyrone he petitioned both the deputy and the King for Bagnall’s pardon. On 2 Mar. 1543 Bagnall, ‘late of Wolston, Warwickshire, alias of Warwick, alias of Stafford, alias of Longford, Derbyshire, yeoman’, was granted a general pardon for murder and felony.4

In the following year Bagnall himself petitioned the council of Ireland for leave to serve the King in the war against France: in forwarding his request to the Privy Council on 11 Apr. 1544 the Irish council commended him as a ‘forward gentleman’ and Bagnall appears to have fought with distinction during the French campaigns, in which two of his brothers died. It was from the Protector Somerset that he received his first office, that of marshal in Ireland, but he attached himself to Somerset’s rival Warwick; in later life he wrote to Warwick’s son Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, ‘My advancement grew by your father and upon your brother and yourself hath been ever since my whole dependence.’ His tour in Ireland under Edward VI increased Bagnall’s reputation: he gained the confidence of successive deputies and of the Privy Council, to which he was frequently despatched on Irish business. During his visits to England Bagnall pursued his own and his brother’s interests. He received grants of land, mostly in Ulster but also in Cheshire and Staffordshire: by July 1550 he had acquired Carlingford, which became his principal residence. Having augmented and consolidated his Irish properties by purchase and exchange, he embarked in April 1553 on an abortive negotiation to exchange them for property in England.5

Bagnall’s attachment to the house of Dudley involved him in the succession crisis of 1553 on the side of Jane Grey and he was not reappointed to his office by Mary, although his services in Ireland were retained. Unlike his brother he does not seem to have conspired against the new regime but he was both suspicious of and suspect to it: when on 14 Apr. 1555 he and his brother were ordered to Ireland the Privy Council issued them safe conducts as they had previously feared to go there ‘without some protection of their persons from private malice’. In the following autumn Bagnall was returned to his first Parliament as Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. (The statement in the Dictionary of National Biography that he had sat in the Parliament of October 1553 is highly questionable: he could not have done so for Newcastle, whose Members are known, and he is unlikely to have filled any of the vacancies which arose elsewhere.) Of his part in the proceedings of the Commons all that is known is that he did not follow Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in opposing one of the government’s bills. It was therefore as a precautionary rather than as a punitive measure that on the following 7 May he was bound in a recognizance of £1,000 (being described in it as of Stoke-upon-Trent) to return to Ireland and to attend upon the deputy, returning to England only if summoned by the Privy Council: he remained there for the rest of Mary’s reign. Early in 1556 he had been pardoned for outlawry incurred through non-appearance in a suit for debt.6

It was not until 23 Oct. 1565 that Bagnall, who had received a general pardon on 15 Jan. 1559, was restored to the marshalcy of Ireland. Although his continued fitness for the post was to be challenged in his last years by the lord deputy Sir John Perrot, he retained it until October 1590 when he resigned in favour of his son Henry. He died shortly afterwards.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. C219/24/143 (name legible under ultra-violet light).
  • 2. Bagnall is said to have been c.30 when he killed a man in a brawl. DNB supp.; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xxiii. 346-7; P. H. Bagenall, Vicissitudes of an Anglo-Irish Fam. 18, app.; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 387-90; APC, iii. 465.
  • 3. LC2/2/42v; E179/69/62; APC, ii. 77-78; CPR, 1560-3, p. 446; 1563-6, p. 31; 1566-9, p. 171; CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 276.
  • 4. Bagenall, 18; T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 41; Erdeswick, Staffs. 15; LP Hen. VIII, xviii; CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 65.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xix; APC, ii. 77-78; iii. 201; iv. 8-9; Bagenall, 18; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 387-90; 1558-60, p. 308; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 87, 110-11, 124; CP and CR Ire. i. 220; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 424; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 383; R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, i. 332, 353, 364, 368, 373; D. Edwards, Church and State in Tudor Ireland, 133.
  • 6. Cal. Carew Pprs. 230-1; Pape, 41-42; Bagenall, 37; CPR, 1555-7, p. 143; APC, v. 117, 268-9; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, 365, 373, 383; SP63/1/20.
  • 7. CPR, 1558-60, p. 226; CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 276.